The Dark and Depraved: The Baby

Forever Young: The Baby, Hollywood’s strangest horror film, returns thanks to Arrow Video

October 7, 2018

On episodes of The Goldbergs (Season One), Bev often refers to her children—especially her sons—as delicious. “My delicious boys,” amongst other rather humorous (or embarrassing, depending on what side of the screen you are on) things to say. The declarations teeter on a fine line between extreme parental love for her kids and cringing in solidarity for the teens because we can relate in one way or another. When she goes to those heights of motherhood, it is enough to react with glorified stinkface. But as parents we always fall into that cavernous realm of affection. The way a mother sees a child is sometimes out of context with what reality leaves us with. Is it that last grasp of trying to control something we cannot control—aging?

Norman Bates’ devotion to his mother was unparalleled, seeing the paralyzing control she had over him even past death. If you have read the biography on Ed Gein, there is a distinct level of abuse that leads to psychological deviation. Most of society knows when to stop. But some cannot. And when an external element invades someone’s territory, protectionism comes into play. And that is where The Baby comes in.

The Wadworth Family in The Baby

The Baby on Selective Memory

Mrs. Wadsorth is a single mother who takes parenting to extremes, this being the backdrop to one of the strangest movies in film history. Now resurrected to Blu-Ray by Arrow Video, we get to revisit this film oddity as it drenches over our conscious. Ted Post is best known for directing Beneath The Planet of the Apes, as well as getting Clint Eastwood his start with Hang ‘Em High and Magnum Force. And down came Baby.

When you first see Baby, the 20-something grown man who has been consistently tortured for acts of normal physical development to keep him at an infantile mindset— there is a scene where he is cattle prodded for trying to walk—there is a weird coat of proverbial slime that covers you in an attempt that someone actually conceptualized this story (that would be Abe Polsky).

That moment when Ann Gentry realizes Baby is not just a baby

The Baby on Selective Memory

Ruth Roman ranks up there with Bette Davis’ performance in Whatever Happened To Baby Jane. Her role as the mother perfectly fits into that maniacal derangement of psychotic proportions, dragging her daughters into the void between society and pure evil. The true horror of this film is that we as voyeurs can do nothing but watch.

When social worker Ann Gentry is assigned to the Wadsworth family case, she is Baby’s only possible redemption. She is not, however, riddled with her own flaws, carrying a heavy load of guilt over a car accident that resulted in devastating results for her husband. We face the truth of it all in the end. Her soft-spoken demeanor comforts Baby and builds a bond like no other. As the movie progresses, we see her as a kind of emancipator. Post draws a deeper rift between the family and her, the mother resistant of the change Gentry suggests as we tumble deeper down a psychedelic rabbit hole.

Post created this film with an idea of defiance, a reaction of current society and family life between wars. The Baby is like PTSD from the effects of The Vietnam War. It replicates hopelessness film directors like George Romero and Night of the Living Dead brought to light.

Ann Gentry visits Baby and the Wadsworth family

The Baby on Selective Memory

The Baby is not an enjoyable horror film but no less an important one. The reflection of the times contextually buries like the exemplifying features next to The Exorcist and Don’t Look Now. The film has its challenges in all of its extremely bizarre qualities but because of those features, it has become timeless. A chastity film for teenagers of all genres, I would not recommend the film for date night. The film’s sexuality neutralizes the weirdness of everything else. In one scene Baby sucks the teet of his “babysitter.” In another, the sister disrobes of her nightgown and cuddles up in his crib.

This Blu Ray opens up a new world with the rich amount of special features that will suffice anyone’s curiosity to take that plunge and press play.

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